Dealing with Non-Standard RSS Feeds

On Dontai.com I scan the world for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) blog and news feeds that deal with China and Japan. These RSS feeds are funneled into categories for me to read. Sometimes certain RSS feeds misbehave and therefore need to be deleted. One particularly annoying issue is an RSS feed that continues to show up as “most recent”, even when the article is obviously older. When these feeds show up as most recent they clog the news feed, pushing down more recent articles to a lower ranking. This is most annoying.

At first I thought that it was some type of tricky RSS programming used so their articles would be featured most prominently. This has occurred on a couple of RSS feeds that include: James Fallows of the Atlantic, Middle Order of the Hindustan Times, Quality-Wars, and China Online Marketing. A large “thumbs down” to all of these sites.

The alleged deviousness of these errant RSS feeds turned out to be an omission of RSS information. Both errant feeds do not provide a “Date Published” field, so my RSS program assumes all articles as most recent, putting them, annoyingly, at the top. If there is no pubDate field, no RSS reader can differentiate old or new articles. James Fallows has a syntax error in his pubDate field.

An advantage of using popular blog software is that standards such as RSS information are rigorously complied with, saving the world much trouble. While I would like to read and retain both RSS feeds, there is no easy way for me to comply, apart from having to do fancy RSS programming. This I will not do.

1 thought on “Dealing with Non-Standard RSS Feeds

  1. David Ing

    @dontai In theory, Atom is a more complete standard than RSS. I tend to prefer to use the Atom feed, unless there’s some media attachments embedded in the RSS feed that doesn’t show up.

    The more carefully designed Atom feed handles things like updates. The non-standard, but more rapidly moving RSS spec adopts newer technologies faster.

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